ASIA WEEK NEW YORK Highlight
More than any other art, ceramics speak to the collector's personal experience, taste, vision and creativity. Certain Japanese ceramics can also challenge, test, and provoke this taste and creativity, including the sensitive and engaging works of Yasuhiro Kohara.
From the very first time when I visited Kohara, this self-taught, reserved Shigaraki potter told me that he only makes the 90% of the piece, leaving the remaining 10% to the person who buys the work. His statement has only proved true as I put his pots to use holding food, flowers, or water: the more creative I become, the more I see the 90% + 10% equation. Pots made of Shigaraki clay are meant to be used from day one. The feldspar in the mountain clay gives air to the finished product, and in the past they were used mainly for seeds and dry vegetables. Only after the rise of the tea ceremony was Shigaraki's rustic beauty discovered. Ceramicists developed this dry, natural, rustic wabi-sabiaesthetic, which seems as if it was born rather than made. Flowers make the perfect companion for these organicShigaraki works-like a match made in nature. There are many subtle colors hidden in the glaze that become apparent only in the presence of a flower, whose delicate nature perfectly balances the earthy, masculine Shigarakiclay.
Aren't you always taken by the food presentation and flower arrangements when you are in Japan? Have you taken a second look at their utensils? It is your time to contribute this 10%. Let your imagination fly!!!
This box by Yasuhiro Kohara seems born from the wilderness. Once it is open, however, it is different world, full of precious gold leaf and fresh red lacquer. In many of Kohara's works, you begin to see this exciting and seemingly effortless combination of opposing qualities, of which strength and fragility are only the most obvious. His efforts alone cannot complete the composition, however: the collector must bring the last ten percent. Imagine placing food in this box!
The artist has said of his work: "though the space inside the kiln is small, there are many ideas hidden within. An effect which seems to be incidental becomes, when the right conditions are present, a logical consequence. It can result in a very sophisticated work. To create such effects, I choose the clay, create a form, and load the pieces while taking into account all the requirements for the hypothesized results after the firing. I control the phenomenon happening in the kiln to draw beautiful sceneries with fine colors (on the surface of clay.)"
Kohara, who was born in 1954, works within a tradition that dates from the twelfth century, yet the style is recognizably his own. This pot (which bears a price tag of $7,000) is a particularly fine example of the way he links accident to artistry: the textures and colors arise from a mysterious collaboration between the artist's skill and the uncontrollable events of the pot's ten or so days in the kiln. Its deep fissures are the result of the kind of kiln accident that potters like Kohara prize, an example of the elusive Japanese principle of wabi-sabi - imperfection and simplicity, in which nature has had a hand.
Such pieces have their origins in the rituals of the tea ceremony, where they aid in the contemplation of harmony, purity, and tranquility.
From the top:
KOHARA Yasuhiro 小原康裕 (1954-)
Shigaraki Jar 信楽壷
H33.5cm x Dia33cm, H13" x D12.8"
Shigaraki Platter 信楽長皿
H11.5cm x W21.6cm x L82.5cm, H4.5" x W8.5" x 32.5"'
Shigaraki Box 信楽陶箱
H16.2cm x D24cm x W24cm, H6.4" x D9.5" x W9.5"